About time too.
The Colston Hall, Bristol is to be renamed following a campaign, supported by Massive Attack, against its continued use of 17th century slave trader Edward Colston’s name.
A statement on the venue’s website states: “The name Colston, and its associations with the slave trade, does not reflect our values as a progressive, forward-thinking and open arts organisation.” Meanwhile, Louise Mitchell, the chief executive of the Bristol Music Trust – which operates the 150-year-old Hall – described the Colston name as a “toxic brand”.
Edward Colston was the deputy governor of the Royal African Company, which transported around 100,000 slaves – including children as young as six years old – to plantations in America and the Caribbean between 1672 and 1698. Bristol was the epicentre of the British slave trade, and much of its wealth during the Georgian era derived from slave transportation.
There have been calls for the Colston Hall to change its name for many years, with trip-hop legends Massive Attack’s boycott dating back over two decades. The Countering Colston group is also targeting the many ways in which the slave trader has been commemorated in the city, from the cathedral’s stained glass window to the name of a girls’ school to a statue that fails to mention his links to slavery.
The Colston Hall is due to close for refurbishment in 2019. The Bristol Music Trust plans to consult with artists, audiences and commercial stakeholders before the venue’s new name is unveiled in 2020.